Longevity landed Carlton Fisk and Tony Perez in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but one game defined their careers.
Twenty-five years after the Reds and Red Sox played in the 1975 World Series, baseball will celebrate one of its greatest moments when two of the series' heroes are inducted at Cooperstown this weekend.
Former Cincinnati manager Sparky Anderson, who was elected by the Veterans Committee, and longtime Reds announcer Marty Brennaman, who will receive the Ford C. Frick award, will also be there. Also expected for the impromptu reunion are previous inductees Joe Morgan, Johnny Bench and Carl Yastrzemski--all of whom played in the '75 Series and its unforgettable Game 6.
"There are going to be a lot of people there from Cincinnati, a lot of fans," said Perez, who's a special assistant to Florida Marlins general manager Dave Dombrowski. "To be there with Sparky and Marty makes it very special. And Carlton Fisk, too."
Also being honored in today's ceremony are Negro League star Norm "Turkey" Stearnes and Veterans Committee selection Bid McPhee, a 19th Century defensive specialist for Cincinnati who was the last second baseman in baseball to play without a glove.
Although best known for his body-bending, game-ending homer in the 12th inning to win Game 6 of the '75 series, Fisk earned his Hall credentials game by game, catching 2,226 of them--more than any catcher in history. He also hit a major league record 351 of his 376 homers as a catcher.
He was elected with 79.56% of the votes after a career in which he had 2,356 hits and 1,330 RBIs and was selected to the All-Star team 11 times. Although he spent 11 years with the Red Sox and 13 with the White Sox, the native New Englander ended the suspense this winter and said he would be enshrined wearing a Boston cap.
"I'd like to think I spent more years in Boston than just the years I was in uniform," he said after the Red Sox announced that they would retire his No. 27 (he wore 72 with Chicago). "It's not like a light bulb came on or I had a vision. I think this has always been a part of me."
Perez never led the leagues in batting, homers or RBIs, but he drove in at least 90 runs in 11 consecutive seasons from 1967-77. He finished with 1,652 RBIs, which ranks 18th, hit 379 homers and batted .279 while also playing for Boston, Philadelphia and Montreal.
After retiring in 1986, he fell short of election eight times before making it this winter with 77.15% of the vote.
"For nine years, I waited for the call," he said. "One year I was disappointed because they didn't vote anybody in. Then (Phil) Neikro went in and (Don) Sutton went in and I was left out, and I said, 'Well, I might never make it.'
"One time I got less votes than I had the year before, and I said, 'Everything is going backwards.' But this year I was feeling good about it because a lot of people came up to me and said, 'I think this is going to be your year."'
Patience served Perez well, just as it did for his Reds in 1975. Because even though Fisk's homer won Game 6 for the Red Sox, Cincinnati won the series in the seventh game, thanks in part to a two-run homer by Perez.
That was the first of two consecutive championships for the Big Red Machine under Anderson, who also won it all in 1984 with the Detroit Tigers--the only manager in baseball history to win the World Series in both leagues. He won 2,194 games in all--third most in history behind Connie Mack and John McGraw, and his .691 postseason winning percentage (34-21) is the best ever.
He chose to be honored in a Reds cap, because that's where it all started.